*commends CDS for appointing human rights adviser:
Prominent civil rights advocacy group- Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) has urged the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Gwabin Musa to immediately activate pragmatic mechanisms to stamp out all sorts of dehumanising treatments being meted out to travellers in the South East region by operatives of security services manning roadblocks.
HURIWA has also expressed excitement at the decision of the Chief of Defence Staff General Christopher Gwabin Musa to appoint a senior advisor on Human rights with a full fledged office just as the Rights group stated that the decision could signpost a positive and constructive development which can, if our analysis are correct, only mean that the topmost serving military officer has the greatest inclination towards showing respect for the rule of law and respect for the human rights of the citizens and the members of the armed forces.
The Association called for broad-based consultative partnerships between the security agencies and credible civil rights advocacy groups in the country, so the civil populace can be carried along to support the military in the war on terror and in carrying out other legal objectives through internal security operations.
HURIWA, which specifically addressed challenges confronted by travellers within the South East of Nigeria, said that for over 5 years now, passengers within the South East travelling through military roadblocks are subjected to such degrading, dehumanising and disgusting treatment like forcing them to disembark from the vehicles and to raise their hands like slaves about to be sold into slavery and then these security operatives will not even bother to conduct any searches on the vehicles but simply derive joy in allowing passengers to go through embarrassing and disturbing ordeals.
The Rights group said these mistreatment and dehumanising conditionality imposed on travellers by the military operatives who run the roadblocks in the South East region, is absolutely unconstitutional and illegal just as the Rights group said the human rights provisions in chapter four of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are binding on all authorities.
HURIWA further underscores the necessity of military operatives being made to observe the rules of engagement that will not go contrary to the universal human rights laws including those provisions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Covenants on civil and political rights and the African human and peoples rights principles.
In a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA disclosed that it was throwing her weight behind the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Abia State Council, that has recently expressed worry over the continuous humiliation of passengers at military checkpoints across South East geo-political zone.
NUJ in a communiqué after its monthly congress in Umuahia, strongly condemned the practice, and demanded its immediate stoppage, saying it is not a good public image for the military.
It read in part:”Congress observes with perplexity, and condemns in very strong terms, the on-going humiliation, and dehumanization of commuters at some military check-points on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway especially at the NNPC Mega Filling Station junction, Umuahia; Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU) junction; Onuaku Uturu near the border with Ebonyi State; among others.
”Congress queries the rationale behind ordering passengers to disembark at the checkpoint and trek across, even when no checks are conducted on their vehicles. It, therefore, calls on the State Government to prevail on the military authorities to review the practice which is generating public condemnation.”
HURIWA said the CDS as an officer that has shown inclination towards the adherence to the rule of law and respect for the human rights of the Nigerian citizens, must impress it on the other service chiefs, the inspector General of police and the DG of DSS that treating citizens of any section of the country like slaves, is totally unacceptable just as the Rights group asked the Army to finetune her operational modalities in the South East, adopt law based, rights based and intelligence based strategic approaches in combating insecurity in the country.
Besides, HURIWA said section 42(1) prohibits discrimination of citizens on the bases of their ethnic, religious or political affiliations just as it has tasked the Chief of Defence Staff to treat this complaint with the highest attention that it deserves because according to the Rights group, segregating and treating Igbo travellers or other travellers within the South East like a conquered population, is antithetical to the principles behind the setting up of the departments of civil and military affairs by the three tiers of the armed forces of Nigeria such as the Army, the Airforce and the Nigerian Navy.